Friday, January 03, 2020

Trump Is Wrong In Thinking Attacking Iran Will Get Him Reelected

Being of a "certain age" I remember the Vietnam War debacle well and lost friends to America;s folly in the late 1960's and early 1970's. When the George W. Bush - sometimes known as the Chimperator on this blog - launched the Iraq War, I had a huge sense of deja vu which sadly proved all too accurate. Indeed, when a former law partner who had served in Vietnam saw "Fog of War" with me back in the early 2000's, his reaction was that Iraq was Vietnam all over again. In each of these poorly conceived wars, individuals Americans paid with their lives and the nation squandered billions of dollars.  Now, it seems, Donald Trump - a man who doesn't read, knows little history and wants one page bullet style briefing reports - wants to launch an even more insanely conceived war against Iran - a nation far larger and better educated and wealthy than Iraq - in the hope that it will win him re-election. A piece in New York Magazine makes the case of why Trump's insane desire for a war with Iran will not assure him re-election.   Here are article highlights:
Beginning in 2011, and continuing through the next year, Donald Trump began obsessively predicting that President Obama would start a war with Iran in order to be reelected. Trump stated it publicly, on at least a half-dozen occasions, explicitly positing that attacking Iran would help Obama win reelection.
Trump’s attacks on Obama were the purest form of projection. They reflect his cynical belief that every president will naturally abuse their powers, and thus provide a roadmap to his own intentions.
And indeed, Trump immediately followed the killing of Qasem Soleimani by metaphorically wrapping himself in the stars and stripes. No doubt he anticipates at least a faint echo of the rally-around-the-flag dynamic that has buoyed many of his predecessors. But Trump’s critics need not assume he will enjoy any such benefit, and should grasp that their own response will help determine it.
One salient fact is that it’s not 2001, or even 2003. A poll earlier this summer found that just 18 percent of Americans prefer to “take military action against Iran” as against 78 percent wanting to “rely mainly on economic and diplomatic efforts.”
It is in part due to public war weariness that Republicans have sworn repeatedly, for years, that they would not go to war with Iran. The possibility of such a military escalation was precisely the central dispute between the parties when the Obama administration struck its nuclear deal. . . . And as Trump mulled following through on his threat to abrogate the deal, conservatives furiously denied that doing so would lead to military conflict.
Trump’s allies have framed the issue as being about Qasem Soleimani’s moral culpability, or Iran’s responsibility for escalating the conflict. And it is certainly true that Iran is a nasty, aggressive, murderous regime. But none of this refutes the fact that Trump’s Iran policy is failing on its own terms. Having violated a diplomatic agreement on the premise that doing so would not lead to war, they are now blaming Iran for the war they insisted would never happen.
Americans historically support their presidents in foreign conflicts, both the wise ones and unwise ones alike, at least initially. Trump no doubt believes the halo effect will last at least through November — that he might undertake an action that would harm his reelection out of some larger sense of duty to the nation or the world is unfathomable.
But presidents traditionally benefit from a presumption of competence, or at least moral legitimacy, from their opposition. Trump has forfeited his. He will not have Democratic leaders standing shoulder to shoulder with him, and his practice of disregarding and smearing government intelligence should likewise dispel any benefit of the doubt attached to claims he makes about the necessity of his actions. Trump has made it plain that he views American war-fighting as nothing but the extension of domestic politics.
I fear for members of the military who may loose their lives - and for their families - as a result of Trump's self-centered war mongering.  I nearly lost a family member in the Afghanistan disaster. Others may not be as luck as we were. 

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